About Garber, Missouri
Click on Pictures to Enlarge
For photos and additional information about
click here. On this page is information I received from John Fullerton, to provide details about the
postcards shown on the Harold Bell Wright website.
Here is my connection to Garber (updated March 2005) …
I’ve been researching Garber, Missouri’s interesting history since about
1991 and I’d like to say that I have become very impressed with your
Harold Bell Wright website and I visit it often! I was born in 1978 and
am a Branson, MO native, my family has been based in this area since
before the Civil War.
I do have family connections to Garber, as my Grandpa Willard Jones, who
passed away at age 82 in December 2004, was a life long resident of the
Garber community and perhaps the last to have claimed that honor. I was
very fortunate to conduct a number of interviews with Grandpa over the
years dealing with Garber and the Shepherd of the Hills country. I will
also say that Grandpa did enjoy the photos that are on this site. One of
our disputes you might say, was that he never recalled Old Matt’s Post
Office having the high-pitched roof that Old Matt added a few years
before he died. Grandpa was only six when the building burned, but
remembered that Monday evening in September 1928 when the fire took
place. So it was quite funny when I showed him the photo (#3) and
hearing his response that he never remembered it looking quite like
The Garber school house still stands near Garber and was used as a
school (District #22) from 1902-1942. Grandpa attended there through
grade six. Grandpa and I were down at the school house a few years back
with some friends of ours and he showed us exactly where first, second,
third and home base were when they played baseball at recess, and then
told us about the time his teacher gave him three spankings in one day
because he was smarting back to her!
Just some quick notes of interest here for everyone, Garber’s location
today was made possible thanks to the railroad coming through the Roark
Valley in the early 1900s. The original Garber Post Office and trading
post that opened in 1895 was located a little ways north of the present
day Shepherd of the Hills Homestead on a hillside known as Garber Bald.
Joel Garber was the first Postmaster and he and his wife remained in the
area until they moved to Colorado in 1904. It was J. K. Ross (Old Matt)
who moved the town to the railroad in 1907.
Here on the site, I am very impressed with all the photos and was more
than happy to provide a few of my own. A couple of Garber postcards in
particular are extremely rare. Photo #1 from around 1910 that shows J.K.
Ross seated, and has the wagon and team is a neat shot. The man seated
second (wearing hat and white long-sleeved shirt) is William “Bill”
Fronabarger, who served as Garber’s Post Master before J.K. Ross.
Mr. Fronabarger had three kids, and Grandpa believed that the small boy
in the photo was his son Efton Fronabarger. The old Fronabarger farm is
still in use on the banks of Roark Creek today, not far from Garber.
In that photo (#1) there are railroad tracks above the building. It was
only a spur off the main line, the spur wasn’t long—it ended behind the
store. Today I can show you exactly where the spur once ran as the rail
bed/embankment is still there. The purpose of the spur was so they could
drop off goods by boxcar such as feed, supplies, anything needed, so to
speak. The building seen in the left of the photo is Bob Cantwell’s
General Mercantile. It was huge and you could buy just about anything.
It had a loading dock on the east side for wagons to back up to so they
could load their goods or drop off freight. All that is left of the
building today is the foundation.
J.K. Ross built his five room home behind the mercantile. To this day,
it’s the only Garber building I’ve never seen a photo of. Grandpa
remembered spending the night in the Ross home once as a small boy.
Today all that is left of the Ross home is the foundation, some bricks,
and a small section of the roof that covered the front porch.
I once asked Grandpa what he remembered about Garber’s train depot,
which was built from a boxcar (see photo #21). He recalled the depot
inside just had a stove, waiting benches, and a partition at one end,
and space to store freight on the other. It is not known when the depot
was destroyed. Passenger rail service on the line ended in March of
Photo # 4, the one that Larry sent, was taken in the summer of 1928. Yes
there was a room added on the east side and actually we’re seeing the
flag pole and rope. A question is often asked, “Did Garber ever have
electricity?” The answer is no, as most rural areas in this part of the
country didn’t receive electricity until the early 1950s. Garber did
receive telephone service in 1907 when Mr. Ross moved the town to the
railroad. The phone lines in those days were built along the railroad
tracks and connected Branson, Gretna, and Garber. Grandpa told me once
that when the phones really caught on around here in the late 1920s,
almost every home had one. The homeowners would install it themselves,
running phone lines thru the trees and into their homes. Once in great
while you may bump into an older tree around here and see strange wires
hanging out, as the bark, over time, grew over the lines, covering them
Ada B. Clodfelter from Springfield, MO is holding the mail bag in photo
#4. Ada and her husband, Cornelius, came to Garber from Springfield in
1928. Their plans were to rebuild the town and turn it into a tourist
attraction and get Garber on the map. The old-timers in the Garber
neighborhood considered the Clodfelter’s to be odd folks. And from
reading the Garber columns in the area newspapers during my research,
they did have some funny ideas, like building a highway, or creating a
Garber Chamber of Commerce!
The Clodfelter’s were only able to contribute one building to Garber,
and that was a stone church. Today that stone church is the only
building still standing in Garber. On Monday evening, September 28,
1928, Ada’s postal assistant, Ray LaCompt, stole some money orders and
cash out of the post office. He had done this more than once, and Ada
found out about it just in time to turn him in to the law, but that
particular evening, LaCompt set the post office on fire-- thereby
burning the evidence and totally destroying the whole building. Burned
to the ground, it was a total loss and was never built back.
For a while, the work continued slowly on the new stone church and was
nearing completion in early 1933. But on January 27, 1933, Ada
Clodfelter passed away. So the one and only service ever held in the new
stone church was Ada’s funeral. After that, the stone building became
the new Garber Post office, where it continued thru 6/1/56.
The February 5, 1933 edition of the White River Leader featured Ada’s
“Mrs. Ada B. Clodfelter, owner of the townsite of Garber, died at her
home there, Friday January 27, following a week’s illness of influenza.
Mrs. Clodfelter came from Springfield in 1928 and purchased the site.
She became postmistress and station agent for the Missouri Pacific
Railroad. She had many ambitious plans for the building of a real town,
but most of them failed to materialize. Nevertheless she was subject of
a great deal of publicity in the daily press as the ‘owner of the town
of Garber.’ Besides her husband, Mrs. Clodfelter is survived by a
brother and a sister. A son, Orval, died from war injuries shortly after
she came to Garber and before he had the opportunity of joining her.”
Ada’s husband Cornelius served as Postmaster from August 1934 until
September 1944. His health began going downhill. He was deaf, and his
vision was poor also. Many times Cornelius could be seen sitting on the
rail reading a book or newspaper waiting for the train to come through
with the mail. Usually he’d know when to get up and get out of the way
when he felt the vibrations of the oncoming train. On Election Day,
August 6, 1946, Cornelius was at his familiar spot on the tracks and an
unscheduled train came through, he didn’t get out of the way in time and
he was struck and killed instantly. He and Ada are laid to rest in the
Evergreen Cemetery where Mr. and Mrs. Ross, Uncle Ike, and many others
Margie Walden served as Garber Postmistress from late 1944 up to June
1956 when it closed. Grandpa told me that there were seven or eight
families who were still receiving their mail from the post office when
it closed: Jones, Cantwell, Quick, Bass, Parker, Stevens, and Cox were
the families he could remember, most of them living within 2 miles or
less of Garber. Margie Walden, at the time she closed the post office,
was only making $15 to $18 per month as Postmistress, and no one would
take the job for that. She couldn’t find anyone to run it, so it was
The Walden family continued to own the land around Garber until recent
years when the family sold it to a neighbor who owns some land on Roark.
The property where the Walden home and the Clodfelter home stood was
bulldozed in early 2003. There are plans for a housing development to go
in place. The Stone/Taney county line split the Walden property in half,
Garber being the western most town in Taney County. Today, things are a
lot different. There is a golf course nearby, and a new four-lane
I just pray and hope that what little is left of Garber will remain. If
I had the chance to buy the acreage where Garber sits, I’d rebuild the
whole town!!! Sure the neighbors might think I’m nuts, but that’s okay.
Every time I travel into the Roark Valley near Garber, even though there
is all this growth and expansion, I ignore it, and I let my mind wander
back to the days when J.K. Ross was running things and the community
flourished. But the true highlight of all of this was that I had a
wonderful Grandpa who shared many of his experiences with me, giving me
a little taste of Garber life.
And, Gerry, I want to thank you for all you have done. You’ve got a
great website, one that we can use to teach to all about Harold Bell
Wright and the doors he opened in this area. Had the book, Shepherd of
the Hills, not been written, just imagine-- Garber would not have turned
in the direction it did, and the same certainly goes for Branson area
I’m still performing in Branson full-time as a Singing Cowboy, and
researching the roots of Western/Cowboy music and the Sons of the
Pioneers. Everyone is welcome to visit my website:
On my website click on “Shepherd of the Hills Country” and you can read
the Branson story and see some of my memorabilia on this area.
I look forward to hearing from anyone who has a Garber question or would
just like to visit! Feel free to contact me. My email:
March 7, 2005
P.S. Here is a list of all the Garber Postmasters and the date they took
the position according to the U.S. Postal Records.
1. Joel Garber March 18, 1895
2. William F. (Bill) Fronabarger November 16, 1901
3. Frank E. Denham March 23, 1906
4. John K. Ross (Old Matt) April 9, 1907
5. Edmond P. Edwards August 18, 1923
6. Robert Lee Cole December 5, 1924
7. Kathern B. Prater September 30, 1925
8. Ada B. Clodfelter January 28, 1928
9. Thomas Daniel June 1, 1933
10. Esther Steinfeld March 20, 1934
11. Cornelius Clodfelter August 8, 1934
12. Efton Fullerton September 23, 1944
13. Margie Walden December 31, 1944
Discontinued June 1, 1956